Professionalism is a complex and highly disputed idea of crucial importance in a range of fields, not least health and social care. It can inspire people by reminding them of workplace ideals and the value of occupational expertise. But it can also feel threatening and de-motivating; for example, if it is used to demand ever more from people working in very challenging circumstances. The language of professionalism can evoke a special relationship of trust between service users and practitioners. But it can also suggest a social distance between two classes of people; high status professionals and their lower status 'non-professional' clients.

This book is an original and accessible guide to these ambiguities and complexities. Cribb and Gewirtz clarify the nature of professionalism and explain and defend its importance, providing an understanding of, and an analytical engagement with, both idealistic and critical perspectives. In addition, the authors assess the implications of contemporary policy trends for professional work, showing how they may be radically altering our understanding of the 'good' professional.

This inviting and reflective study draws upon examples and case studies and weaves in a range of relevant theoretical concepts and perspectives. Written in a style that encourages and supports further reflection on this complex topic, <i>Professionalism</i> is the only book of its kind for practitioners, researchers and students in health and social care.

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  • June 2015
  • 184 pages
  • 153 x 219 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $62.25
  • 9780745653167
  • Paperback $22.95
  • 9780745653174
  • Open eBook $18.00
  • 9780745690438
Table of Contents



Chapter 1 Heroes and anti-heroes

Chapter 2 Varieties of professionalism

Chapter 3 Impossible dreams

Chapter 4 Licensed to care

Chapter 5 Integrity at work

Chapter 6 Supporting professionalism

Chapter 7 Professional identities


About the Author
Alan Cribb is Professor of Bioethics and Education at King’s College London

Sharon Gewirtz is Professor of Education and Head of the Education Department at King’s College London
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"This short book focuses largely on the application of professionalism to social work, but much of it equally applicable to nursing... [Cribb and Gewirtz] cover in-depth the theoretical dimensions of the topic - with an extensive bibliography of classic and recent publications - and provide examples drawn from practice, including health visiting and paediatric oncology nursing, to illustrate their arguments."
Nursing Standard

"Don’t let the fact this is a good read mislead you into thinking this book is lightweight. It isn’t. It deals with important arguments that concern us all - about the place of the professions in modern society and whether we can trust the professionalism of individuals when we need them. Accessible and beautifully written the best book on the topic since the ‘70s."
Jocelyn Cornwell, founder and Chief Executive of The Point of Care Foundation

"At a time when the public has grown skeptical of the practice and wisdom of professionals - from education, to law, to medicine - Alan Cribb and Sharon Gewirtz offer much-need perspicacity on professionalism in health and social care. They take up and deconstruct critical and complex topics with stunning clarity of thought and superbly accessible writing. This is a must read for all those who call themselves professionals and want to understand the nuanced challenges professionals face, not only in forming their own social identities but also in executing their work in competent, ethical, and humane ways that serve the public good."
John P. Allegrante, Columbia University

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